Kern River Valley Revitalization’s purpose in hosting this page is to facilitate understanding and discussion regarding preservation of the Kern River Valley’s ‘DARK SKY.’
Why is the Kern River Valley’s dark sky important?
- The night skies surrounding the Kern River Valley are some of the darkest and clearest in California.
Want to know why the Dark Sky is such a passionate issue for some?
NightWise.org explains why it matters:
Errant and excessive outdoor lighting detracts from the night. Often dubbed light pollution, this wayward light is commonly seen as glare, spillover (including light trespass), and sky glow.
By implementing better lighting practices:
- you save money and energy;
- you improve safety for motorists and pedestrians;
- you increase security and the sense of well-being;
- you benefit animal habitats;
- you preserve the starry night;
- you improve the quality of life;
- you lessen greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
Correcting the impact of light pollution is often just a matter of awareness. You can help prevent outdoor lighting from impinging on the night sky by aiming lights downward; by turning lights off when not in use; by covering exposed light sources with full cut-off shields; by not over-lighting; and by installing sky-friendly fixtures.
The Kern River Valley’s incredible nighttime sky is highly valued by a majority of its residents and visitors for many years.
It has been mentioned in every major visioning and planning effort of late.
A Vision for the Kern River Valley:
Principles for Economic and Ecological Sustainability
(Cal Poly Pomona June 2000, page 19)
“As an amateur astronomer, I like that I can still see the stars at night,
without the interference from city, street, and sign lights.”
- “Light pollution is already an issue in the Kern River Valley, but it has the potential to affect two of the Valley’s more impressive attributes: the abundant wildlife and the ability to view stars.”
- “Additionally, the ability to view the stars at night is one of the Valley’s coveted treasures.”
- Bower, Joe. 2000. The Dark Side of Light. Audubon. March-April: pp. 92-97, states that as “few as one in 10 Americans live in areas where they can see the 2,500 or so stars that should be visible under normal nighttime conditions”.
- “Residents and visitors alike enjoy this valued quality of the Kern River Valley.”
Kern COG Blueprint KRV Summary Report (April 11, 2007, page 4)
“Visions & Values: Clear view of the stars and dark skies at night”
“Light pollution is the adverse effect of man-made light and includes sky glow, glare, light trespass, and light clutter. In the Kern River Valley, light and glare pollution affect properties and structures, as well as habitat and wildlife communities.”
Tuesday afternoon, July 29th, 3 Kern River Valley citizens spoke before Kern County’s Board of Supervisors in reference to an item regarding Dark Sky ordinances for the County’s rural areas. Originally, that item was on the ‘Consent Calendar’ meaning it would have been approved as a RECEIVE AND FILE item with a large batch of other items. Staff would have made no special presentation. The public would have had no opportunity to speak and the Supervisors would not have discussed it and given their staff further direction as to how to proceed. Nothing more would have happened.
2pm 7-29-08 Item #13) Response to Board of Supervisors Referral from May, 2006, Related to Addressing Development Project Dark Sky Issues in Rural Communities a 3 page letter from Ted James, Kern County Planning Director.
Supervisors Jon McQuiston, Don Maben, Chairman Michael J. Rubio, Ray Watson & Mike Maggard.
By asking that public comment be allowed, KRV residents Richard Rowe, Rick Crockett and Ron Hyatt were able to speak, following a short presentation by Planning Director Ted James. Many others wrote letters, sent e-mails or contacted their Supervisor on this issue as well.
Following all that, our Board of Supervisors discussed the Dark Sky issue, taking the following action unanimously:
Read the Minutes or view Video of the 3 hour 48 minute board meeting held at 2pm Tuesday 7-29-08 in Bakersfield.
To read a summary what each of the 3 public citizens said along with the discussion among the Supervisors on this item, click on:
We are working on a transcript of that meeting, so you will be able to see what each Supervisor said and Planning Director Ted James’ answers to their questions. Once we’ve completed it, we will post it here.
Reporting on that Board action:
Night lights in the Wofford Heights area are seen at dusk from the Camp 9 area Thursday evening.
The reflection is from the top of a vehicle and Isabella Lake is in the center. Casey Christie photo.
In the near future, the Kern County Planning Department will come out with a schedule for the Dark Sky ordinance, including public workshops, which will be posted here.
Both KRVR and Frazier Park’s Mountain Community Town Council have offered to host Public Forums on the Dark Sky issue.
Dark Sky Ordinances
§142.0740 (a) Outdoor lighting shall minimize impacts from light pollution including light trespass, glare, and urban sky glow to preserve enjoyment of the night sky and minimize conflict caused by unnecessary illumination. Regulation of outdoor lighting is also intended to conserve electrical energy. Outdoor lighting is regulated by the State of California’s Building Energy Efficient Standards of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations, parts 1 and 6 [Title 24]. No light fixtures shall exceed the light emission requirements of Section 142.0740 unless the light emission requirements of Section 142.0740 do not comply with Title 24’s energy efficient standards. SOURCE
Fortunately, Kern County doesn’t have to ‘Reinvent the Wheel’ as many other counties & cities have adopted Dark Sky ordinances. Kern County can learn from their experience - pro & con.
Kern County Planning Director Ted James gave the Board of Supervisors this ordinance & it was discussed at the 7-29-08 Board of Supervisors Meeting, so it seems to be the most favored model.
KRV resident Rick Crockett mentioned his involvement in this ground-breaking ordinance while being heard at the 7-29-08 Board of Supervisors Meeting
3 other California counties:
For more examples of other Dark Sky ordinances:
To be fair & balanced:
Background on the Dark Sky issue:
Other helpful websites:
Articles & more helpful to understanding the Dark Sky issue:
When hearing about the possibility of a Dark Sky Ordinance, one Kern River Valley resident remarked:
“Oh NO! I’ll have to replace the motion sensor floodlight next to my front door!”
Truth is, almost certainly that light would qualify as a ‘good light’ anyhow. And it isn’t certain how ‘retroactivity’ will be included in the Kern County Dark Sky ordinance, if at all.
For those who have questions, check out these
Check KRVR.org’s Preserving the KRV’s Dark Sky Forum for new postings from time to time.
If you’d like to be sent announcements on this subject, click on
DARK SKY ACTION e-mail list
or send your name, location & e-mail address (phone too) to
To experience Kern County's Dark Sky: